Damascus, 20 December 2017Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteers and staff are the lifeline to millions, covering the last and the most difficult mile to reach the most vulnerable. Providing these volunteers with safe, secure, and regular access to communities in need across Syria is a humanitarian imperative, said Mr. Francesco Rocca, newly elected President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the end of his official visit to Syria.

The IFRC President visited Syria to meet with SARC volunteers and staff and to hold high-level discussions with government officials on the need for a significant scaling up of humanitarian relief and access of Red Crescent volunteers and staff to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, including Eastern Ghouta where conflict has severely limited civilian access to food and lifesaving health services.

“I am humbled by the bravery and spirit of SARC staff and volunteers. They have shown unparalleled courage and resilience as they bring humanitarian services and relief to millions of people who have endured immeasurable suffering and loss in the course of this seven-year conflict”, said Mr Rocca.

Mr Rocca was welcomed to Damascus by the SARC President, Mr Khaled Hboubati and visited shelters run by staff and volunteers near the capital.

In a series of high-level meetings with senior government officials, Mr Rocca also discussed ways to provide further support to the Red Crescent as demands for its services continue to grow, particularly when the country begins the process of recovery from conflict.

The situation is critical,” said Mr Rocca. “There are more than 13 million people in Syria who still have urgent humanitarian needs. Each day, thousands of SARC volunteers provide emergency food and health care to communities who have lost everything and help people rebuild their lives with psychosocial support and sustainable livelihood programmes.  Their neutrality and impartiality not only save lives, but will be critical as some communities begin the huge and difficult task of rebuilding”, he said.

SARC is the largest provider of humanitarian services in Syria with more than 7,800 active volunteers who work in close partnership with other humanitarian partners present in Syria to distribute relief to more than 5 million people each month.

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